Groupon Live Ticket Service to Move Toward ‘Experiences’

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Groupon is trying to change the way we buy tickets to events. Groupon Live, which launched in May 2011, allows local, regional, and national vendors, promoters, and marketers to sell access to their concerts, games, and anything else. The initial intent was to sell products near the end of the cycle, but the company found there was an interest in selling earlier.

“When we originally entered the space, I think we thought to a great degree that we would be a channel to move inventory that wasn’t otherwise moving. I think we thought we would be playing very late in the sales cycle. We figured we’d be selling a lot of stuff in the last couple of weeks,” Greg Rudin, Groupon Live general manager, says. “The No. 1 reason people don’t go to events is because they don’t know about them. We started asking our content owner partners to work with us earlier in the cycle, as early as a pre-sale to move a limited number of tickets and create some buzz.” As a result, venues see an increase in the number of full-price tickets sold during the Groupon period as well as people buying discounted tickets through the offer.

Rudin has big plans for the future. Groupon Live, like the rest of Groupon, will “move toward experiences, offering highly-attractive-but-difficult-to-move inventory.” For example, Groupon Live could offer 10 pairs of seats in a luxury box that fits 20 or privileges to skip the line entirely. The company also developed G Pass, a partnership with Ticketmaster that allows Groupon to send vouchers that can be used as tickets. This is a massive improvement for the customer and the vendor from the past system that required people to exchange their vouchers for tickets at the stadium.

While Groupon Live is a national effort, it’s inherently local as well, since events take place at specific venues at specific dates and times. Rudin says the company works with everyone from the smallest venues to the largest stadiums. Groupon uses its vast databases of past behavior to target specific people or groups of people who they think will be interested. It’s early days for Groupon Live, but it could have a significant impact on the ticket market if it takes off.

Noah Davis is a senior editor at Street Fight.